© Stocksak. British Conservative MP Rishi Sonak will be moving to London, Britain on October 22, 2022. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
By Elizabeth Piper & William Schomberg
LONDON, Stocksak – Rishi Sunak, Britain’s youngest prime Minister in over 200 years, was elected to parliament on Monday. He is charged with guiding the country through a difficult economic situation and anger from some voters.
This is a remarkable turnaround for Sunak, who lost a leadership race to Liz Truss less that two months ago after he was accused of bringing down his hero, Boris Johnson.
He is one of the richest politicians in Westminster. However, he arrives at Downing Street facing deep cuts in public spending to stem a financial crisis.
According to his backers, the former finance minister is a safe pair who can restore Britain’s credibility with investors who bought sterling and bonds after Truss’s mini-budget offered no funding options but tax cuts.
The former analyst at Goldman Sachs (NYSE;) and hedge fund partner faces other challenges within the governing Conservative Party. Some lawmakers have criticized him for his role in Johnson’s ousting and are concerned that he doesn’t have the ability to win elections.
The opposition Labour Party will likely paint him as a member the uber-rich elite and out of touch with the pressures facing millions as Britain slides into recession, dragged down largely by the rising cost of food, energy, and other commodities.
Some worry that he won’t be able to unify a party that is deeply fractured and are used to quickly displacing leaders they don’t like.
“He couldn’t beat Liz Truss last week; he hasn’t turned into an electoral winner less than two years later,” a senior Conservative lawmaker stated on condition of anonymity, after supporting Johnson’s failed bid to run again.
Truss was replaced by Sunak. She had said she would resign four-days ago, but was defeated on Sept. 5, with 57% of the vote coming from Conservative members. The former finance minister called his predecessor’s ideas “fairytale economics” that would fool the markets.
Although he was proven right, some Conservatives doubt his commitment to a Margaret Thatcher-style small-state vision to spur growth. After he set Britain up for the highest tax burden since 1950s, with emergency pandemic spending on welfare and saving jobs, he placed Britain on course to have the highest tax burden.
Sunak, 42, declared his candidacy. He stated that he had a track history that showed he could fix our economy, unite our party, and deliver for the country.
“There will always be integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level in the government I lead, and I will work daily to get the job done,” Johnson said in a veiled critique of Johnson, who was forced out by a scandal-ridden prime ministership.
FIRST INDIAN-HERITAGE PM
Sunak was born in Southampton in 1980 to Hindu parents from Punjabi Indian descent.
He had a privilege education. He went to an elite school that charged a fee. He is the third prime minister to study politics, philosophy, economics at Oxford University.
During his last leadership campaign he supported the creation more selective grammar schools following the ban of new ones by the Labour Party. But he repeatedly said that “a world class education should be a right”.
He will also be Britain’s first ever prime minister of color. Ravi Kumar, 38-year-old Conservative Party member who works in a finance firm in Nottingham, central England, described the appointment to be a “watershed moment”.
“I grew in the 80s, 90s, and I could never even imagine a nonwhite prime Minister in my lifetime.” He told Stocksak that it was amazing to see a British Indian leader.
Sunak’s marriage with the daughter of an Indian billionaire has raised questions in the party about whether he is too detached from everyday voters who are being forced by spiralling inflation decisions to decide whether they will spend their money on heating or food.
It was not helping that April Sunak’s wife had to confirm that she didn’t pay tax on her international earnings because she was not a domesticated woman. This was something she agreed to end.
“Rishi has never had an overdraft so he’s used to having a Treasury account (finance minister) and a current accounts,” said a Conservative insider who supported Johnson.
“Rishi has good public relations but an inability be brave and be the Brexit Chief Minister the UK needs,” an insider said under anonymity.
Sunak’s supporters claim that he is the man needed to stabilize the ship after Truss’s so called mini-budget caused financial turmoil. It raised government borrowing, increased mortgages, and raised concerns about the possibility of a collapse in pension funds.
“We need someone capable of providing stability and economic competence in these difficult times, and Rishi is that person,” said Grant Shapps who was appointed as Britain’s interior Minister after Truss fired his predecessor.
After Johnson pulled out late Sunday night, Shapps was one of many ministers who backed Sunak. This surprised and angered his supporters. Johnson has not made it public which party he backed.
Sunak rose quickly through the ranks of Conservative Party to become, in 2020 one of the youngest Finance Ministers.
Sunak dropped the Conservatives small-state instincts of borrowing massively to avoid an economic depression after the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain.
He was also praised for his work in helping workers and businesses, making him one of the most beloved politicians in the country.
Sunak, flanked at the top by leaders of Britain’s largest union group and the most powerful employers’ group, posed outside his Downing Street Office. It was one of the photographs that captured the unity behind his rescue plans.
This consensus was broken when Britain emerged from the crisis with 400 billion pounds more debt than it had before and fell into a cost of living crisis that made even more demands on the government’s purse.
Recent polls showed that his stock had dropped with the public. They were concerned by the cost of living crisis, and angry that he raised payroll taxes while his spouse avoided British levies.
Labour leader KeirStarmer is expected take advantage of the appointment by Conservative lawmakers of a new wealthy prime Minister, rather than by the country, to show why Britain should hold a national elections before it is due in the next two years.
“My attention is on the millions who struggle to pay their bills and now have additional worries about their mortgage. Starmer shared his experience on Sunday.
“They could have a stable Labour Government.”